@OliverStuenkel: A+ Media All Star and Int’l Relations Professor at Brazil’s Fundação Getulio Vargas Institute

 “When you learn from great teachers, you will grasp much more from their hard work
and commitment than from their lecture style.”
― William Glasser

Courtesy of PostWesternWorld.com

Before discussing the brilliant Dr. Oliver Stuenkel and his on-going contributing efforts to improving one of Brazil’s premier universities, the Fundação Getulio Vargas or FGV as it’s referred to abroad; let’s briefly review some historical context.  Flashback seven decades ago… give or take a year… to 1944.

Overseas, the Allie/Axis national leaders so anxiously desperate to resolve World War II’s problematic consequences spent the year’s majority drafting/revising/finalizing numerous surrender treaties.  But several thousand miles across the Southern Atlantic, FGV’s founding advisory board gathered at the very first assembly to discuss an entirely different world issue: how to sustainably improve their nation’s higher education industry. It’s a relentlessly complex subject yet today -now well into the 21st century- FGV’s current leadership still upholds that earnest commitment to maintaining an exceptional standard when it concerns their nation’s education rankings.

The FGV campus continues to explore, develop and execute progressive ideas, all influencing how a higher education infrastructure, adequately prepares students to begin post-graduate life successfully.  Every class gives students numerous opportunities to interact with invaluable resources, teachers deliver inspiring lectures about how to apply classroom instruction to careers beyond academia; Perhaps most importantly FGV continues to recruit top industry talent ‘turned’ professors, as the newest additions to a fast-growing, remarkable, faculty roster.

Courtesy of FGV.Academia.Edu/OliverStuenkel

In Spring 2011 when FGV approached Dr. Oliver Stuenkel, International Relations Professor extraordinaire, to join their convivial teaching troupe, his reply to their position inquisition was an emphatic yes.  It’s advisable to colleges worldwide, that whenever possible, hiring multi-lingual, internationally versed PhD, media savvy, all star candidates like Stuenkel will only help ennoble education’s foremost audience, the students.  Indeed, any student entering the lecture hall will undoubtedly realize upon finishing his semester course (as long as they’ve gone to class), that they’re all the more wiser, mindful, and discerning thanks to the good professor’s knowledgeable instruction.  Beyond the classroom, Stuenkel’a main media website PostWesternWorld.com, openly shares his latest research findings, thoughtful article readings, and other links to his recent contributing writing.  It’s a tremendous library that continues to curate new, enlightening materials.

Comparatively, PostWesternWorld.com’s social media presence needs a slightly bigger fan base before reaching notoriety similar to Sir Richard Branson’s or Elon Musk’s.  However, its overall audience engagement isn’t terribly shabby when it comes to their Twitter, and Facebook accounts.  Stuenkel often posts extensive information about how to help support diverse philanthropic endeavors, and shares interviews he’s given while attending different conferences worldwide.  Take a few minutes to check out his recent discussion with the GEG Africa Project, while attending at a policy-making symposium at South Africa’s University of Pretoria earlier this fall.  The conversation highlights his recent observations about Brazil’s evolving philosophy toward the changing dynamics impacting global economic governance.

Courtesy of GegAfrica.com

In the same way an apprentice painter hopes to study under an industry master like Henri Matisse, Oliver Stuenkel’s online/offline teaching will better prepare all scholars intent to make their life’s career achieve prominence as a CEO, Engineer, Diplomat, etc.  More importantly, a first-year FGV undergraduate stands to learn as much from Stuenkel’s expressive media presence, as does a corporate Vice President with twice the work experience.  PostWesternWorld.com exemplifies a truly creative way to disperse expert information to the masses, when one makes a choice to work diligently at featuring only the most reflective content using the right emerging media platforms.  Each tutorial reviews provoking question that any future leader needs to contemplate and debate.

Realistically, there’s no possible way to design a truly comprehensive course load that will provide all the ‘right’ answers to future generations.  But if campuses like FGV continue to appoint such influential educators like Stuenkel, then higher education will improve all the more quickly.  It’s equally important that professors also keep a healthy balance between developing their academic work while also helping to advance their respective fields.  Hence, partnerships that connect leaders like Stuenkel to international organizations such as CEBRI.org serve a larger social purpose.  The resulting conversations ideally bring up new suggestions to improve such community issues like urban planning, international relations, and education.

When reading over the numerous achievements Dr. Stuenkel’s CV outlines, its encouraging to know that his leadership continues to engage the commercial and academic environments simultaneously.  It’s largely inconsequential as to whether one absorbs his mentorship online via a podcast session or spends a semester abroad to take his classes.  In time, the students who understands why Stuenkel stresses that all lessons carry a global, applicable context will start a career, already significantly more observant than their less insightful peers.  This fact alone makes all of Stuenkel’s previous pupils a powerful force to contend with; and really who’d expect anything less knowing they’ve spent ample time studying under Dr. Oliver Stuenkel, a clear reflection to FGV’s best.

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

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Will TomoClases.com steer Chile’s Universities to a Tech Savy Future?

   “Serving others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Mohammed Ali

Courtesy of S3.AmazonAws.com

Trick Question (it’s Halloween season folks) — Name two people receiving more Chilean press than a Miner Survivor preparing to enter the Presidential Race?
Answer: Meet the dynamic entrepreneurial duo, Guimar ‘Vaca’ Sittic and his CTO sidekick Eric Denovitzer, the latest Chilean startup all stars hoping to lead their country’s – and in time all of Latin America’s – entire education industry to embracing the 21st century.

So when/where and how exactly did these head honchos brainstorm such a progressive concept (seemingly overnight) that in the last six months they’ve recently joined Argentina’s top idea incubator NXTPLabs.com and began site expansion to the Argentina, Brazil, and Colombian markets?  For starters, they’re both alumni to notable US Universities – the University of Chicago and Princeton respectively.  Then combine this top-tier higher education experience with a multi-lingual/international business sense and it results in producing two civic-minded leaders perfectly ready to embrace the challenging landscape, when it comes to designing an online learning community that will change all future generations.  Vaca Sittic’s previous stint, helping cofound/sell restaurant booking website CenaPlus which raised $3.2 million in funding by February 2011, also gives the team an advantageous, competitive edge.

To quote an old Texas adage, this is not the boys’ first rodeo.

Courtesy of TheNextWeb.com/LA

In describing the company’s site premise and overall purpose, TheNextWeb.com’s reporter Anna Heim highlights how TomoClases.com takes the “offline classes and workshops marketplace model,” that’s comparable to the already popular domains like Khan Academy or SkillShare – but will concentrate their ambition more to specifically improving Latin America education.  Understanding certain, culturally relevant elements also matters a great deal when analyzing how the site will provide sustainable content long term.

During his interview with Heim, Vaca Sittic points out how, “Countries such as Argentina and Brazil have a strong culture in terms of hiring tutors for children. Moreover, people are constantly learning something new ranging from a new sport or an eccentric hobby. Hence, Tomo Clases will have a big impact in this countries in 2012 – we shorten the gap between professors and students from any field, and also encourage everybody to become a professor by teaching what they know.”  

Completing such thorough, primary, in-depth due diligence understandably generates ample, invaluable rewards.  It’s exciting to watch where TomoClases.com will go next, especially considering that even since last April’s beta launch when they first introduced the site to only the Chile/Mexico markets, the community now shares 600+ online classes to a 1,250+ user database.

Courtesy of Blog.TomoClases.com

So just how far will this online mercado, that openly shares an interactive knowledge source to one of the world’s fast-growing regions go? Well if the developing team keeps up their current work, it’s likely that TomoClases.com will evolve far beyond the founders’ initial vision and aspirations. It’s interesting, that where so many online platforms fail to maintain a strong, online brand community presence, TomoClases.com’s Blog, Twitter, and Facebook channels all display enriching, supplemental content. It’s a smart strategy that will only help the founders as they plan to court students, professors, and select education leaders’ participation more aggressively.

Anyone who still stands with both their initial entrepreneurial project and body intact despite enduring numerous, relentlessly searing VC investor screenings certainly posses a natural ability to demonstrate creative, charismatic leadership. But it’s also arguable that certain things succeed because on only the most select occasion, Lady Luck will opt to shine favor toward endeavors she deems worthy.  TomoClases.com’s serendipitous, timely beginning hit the web not long after several reports announced that Latin America’s current informal education market, a sector where 18 million users already spend $5+ Billion USD annually- was growing by 16% every year. Indeed, this proves point to international journalist Henry Golden’s now legendary business philosophy, “The only thing that overcomes hard luck is hard work.”  As TomoClases.com continues to circulate their initiative worldwide, hopefully this winning streak will keep pace.

Courtesy of Facebook.com/TomoClases

It’s almost hard to believe that in just a few short week, students everywhere will rejoice to celebrate another semester’s end, yet the duo will not spend the remainder of 2012 enjoying a leisurely holiday season.  Far from it in fact, as they’ve expressed that their next major milestone will mean securing 10,000 classes and expanding the user-audience by at least ten-fold.  However while the weary TomoClases.com team soldiers on, a hard working holiday now will hopefully mean magnitudes of vacation time to themselves later, after they’ve managed to successfully create one of Latin America’s most lucrative, extraordinary businesses.

As Chile’s national motto so wisely expresses ‘By Right or By Might’ – it’s a tough, tedious road to creating a movement that will forever impact a region’s education industry.  Yet every new accomplishment brings TomoClases.com just a little bit closer to that truly admirable goal. Keep the course dear friends – the world’s already anticipating your next exciting announcement 🙂

Amanda // @acmontgomery
E acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

Does your University speak Global?

It’s rather extraordinary… for you see when one performs thoughtful, sound research, they gain a remarkable ability to make two questions grow where only one grew before.” Thorstein Veblen

Courtesy of BiggerThinking.com

In seeking to understand how university campuses located in both Latin America and European countries employ emerging media platforms to develop their branding initiatives and more importantly use these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff and the surrounding community, I woke up the other morning upon realizing that in truth, I’m actually quite curious about a broader, more encompassing question… Do these university campuses speak global?

And then I had to scratch my head because that question led the way to even more questions concerning this Fall’s thesis research:

What does it mean to speak global?

When a university campus located –in the US, Nicaragua, Argentina, Brazil, Spain, or elsewhere– employs emerging media platforms to develop their branding initiatives and uses these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff, & the surrounding community, they’re making an earnest attempt to speak global.  Every online channel (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) that they opt to use creates content and effort which expands the campus’s network (both internally and externally), increases worldwide connectivity on behalf of those enrolled/employed at the institution, and also helps to expand what relationships/resources assist the university’s larger institutional goals.

Why does having the ability to speak global matter?
After reading a recent report from NACEweb.org which cites that there are at least, 723,000 international college students in the United States, and that this reflects a 4.7% increase from last year; it’s only logical to argue that a campus possessing the ability to speak global (using both digital and traditional media) matters significantly.

Moreover, a 21st century student compares their selection of college campuses using a rigorous grading scale.  To feel confident that they’re going to obtain the best education possible they’ll consider beside geography, financial cost, and campus culture: If a campus will offer opportunities to connect, study and/or intern with partner universities abroad?  Are there career center resources readily available to assist with life post-graduation?  Do faculty demonstrate a commanding knowledge of course subject matter and their field so that in the long run they might turn to their former teachers when seeking mentoring?

When a university demonstrates that they not only meet but surpass such standards, they’re building a brand identity which conveys that the campus seriously aspires to speak globally and maintain an internationally influential role.

Out of all the universities in existence today, which campuses most powerfully demonstrate a capacity to speak globally?
Again, although this project’s research focuses on the emerging media presence concerning campuses based in Latin American and Europe; a 2009 article written by CollegeSurfing.com‘s editorial board shares extensive information regarding the selected ‘Web 2.0 College Olympics‘ winners and how each university employs various digital media platforms to enhance their campus’s online and offline branding initiatives.

In order to specifically review current emerging media efforts taking place within Latin American and European universities, studying the below list of international educators and the campuses that they represent will tremendously consolidate this research niche:
– Professor Julio Blanco — @JulioCBlanco (Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina; Buenos Aires, Argentina)
– Professor Miguel Angel Trabado — @MATrabado  (ESERP School of Business; Barcelona/Madrid, Spain)
– Professor Sandra Turchi — @SandraTurchi (Escola Superior de Propaganda e Marketing; Sao Paulo/Rio De Janeiro, Brazil)
– Professor Martha Gabriel — @MarthaGabriel (HSM Educação; Sao Paulo, Brazil)
– Professor Andrés Silva Arancibia — @AndresSilvaA (Universidad Andrés Bello; Chile)
– Professor Roberto Arancibia — @RobertoA (Universidad Mayor, Universidad UNIACC, the Universidad del Pacífico; Peru/Chile)

Finally, if a university wishes to increase efforts toward learning how to speak globally (using digital and/or traditional media)… what are a few resources that will help their cause?
Countless (and largely free) resources exist around the web to help those institutions struggling to keep track of trends/news concerning social media and education.  A few favorites that’ve come highly recommended by colleagues include: Educause.edu, Chronicle.com, Classroom20.com, Edweek.org, WorldWideLearn.com.

Of course all of these questions merely hint at several concerns regarding international education and how it employs always-evolving digital media.  As a reader, please feel free to send in any and all comments, observations, or questions you might have relating to this field and topic.  Excelsior!

In Fall 2012 a Thesis is coming…

Above all things, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest stories are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” – Roald Dahl

Courtesy of Vogue.com

Let’s consider the above photograph for a moment; go ahead… give it a lingering, philosophical, studious gaze.  Although fully ready to set out on a voyage that requires at least one suitcase, one book and one traveling suit, it’s clearly evident that this young, bright-eyed bon vivant wants desperately to ask several questions about what’s to come her way  traveling.  Fair enough.

Coincidentally, certain similar feelings start to emerge when one begins planning their Master’s thesis.  Where how or what’s the most appropriate place to commence writing one’s graduate school magnum opus incessantly expends the mind.  However, the general conclusion that universally applies to all those enduring the process regardless of institution, instructor, or interest area- is that there simply isn’t  one, single right way to introduce a semester long academic endeavor.  That said, it’s probably best to go ahead and initiate the process.

Of course, it’s impossible to know where in the world the focus of our photo intends to visit; but on the other hand, I’m considerably thankful that my thesis will follow a clear, discernible journey.  This research project will analytically study university campuses, located in both Latin America and European countries, that employ emerging media platforms to not only develop their branding initiatives but more importantly use these technologies to strengthen relationships between students, faculty/staff, & the surrounding community.

Other questions that one must consider when broaching deeper into this subject include:
– Are these efforts increasing viral participation with the University brand online?
– Is the campus seeing a gradual increase concerning grants or funding/enrollment/teacher retention?
– When a University campus employs select emerging media platforms to increase brand identity and community participation, what advantages/disadvantages affect different areas in the educational environment?

This platform (www.LivinLaVidaNewMedia.Wordpress.com) will serve as a collective space that publishes all in-depth research findings (both quantitative and qualitative), in order to answer the above questions relating to how University systems, located in Latin America and European use emerging media platforms successfully or dysfunctionally and why.

Specific research methodologies that will assist this project include:
– Scholarly Article Evaluations
– Platform/Technology Investigation and Reviews
– Critical Response and Analysis
– Interviews and interactive discussion with various Campus Representatives
– Case Study Profiles

At any point should you have any questions regarding this project’s research please feel free to reach me at the following contact information: Amanda Montgomery,
MA Candidate / Dept of Emerging Media & Communications ;
University of Texas – Dallas
Email – acrawfordmontgomery@gmail.com
Twitter – @acmontgomery
LinkedIn.com/in/AmandaMontgomery

The anticipating young lady in the photograph poses a calm yet alluring demeanour; it’s my greatest hope that the collective research gathered for this project during Fall 2012 will capture a similar essence and more importantly raise awareness towards the symbiotic potential that exists between global higher education and digital media.